Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

Real Time




I’ve been having conversations with folks about why Identi.ca (or Laconica, the mothership code base of which Identi.ca is the flagship derivation, but there are many possibilities available such as Leo Laporte’s TWiT Army) matters so much for the present and future and why Twitter has failed to keep the great commission by hampering its real time flow (made possible via XMPP) in hopes of monetizing it with partners such as Zappos.

The question here is what use is a service such as Twitter if the ability to Track keywords in real time is not an option. To some of us who used Twitter primarily for this function for months and months, Twitter’s plug-pulling action was a punch in the face. Suddenly, we had to rely on RSS, Summize or API clients such as Twhirl.

But the power of Twitter is not, and has never been, about latent searches, API calls or RSS deliveries to find relevant information. What makes (made) Twitter so revolutionary is the real time experience.

While those means of parsing data are sufficient for some, those means are 3 steps back in the general evolution of the web that Twitter had started to spur. Just as more and more users were being converted to the power of Track via IM, Twitter closed off the firehose and took the goose that will lay its golden monetization egg back into the royal stable, away from us peasants, forcing us to glean the fields at night after the nobles had finished their harvesting for the day.

Real time matters. And that is why Identi.ca matters. Identi.ca recognizes the power of real time and with its federated sense of micro-blogging and its wise reliance on developers for Track, Identi.ca has the foundations in place to provide the type of experience that will transform the web and relegate the Twitter silo to CompuServe status.

Here are a few great pieces I’ve come across that reverberate this growing awareness (and demand) for real time trackable services to fill the gap that Twitter created…

Joe Magennis nails it with this piece on Identi.ca and community building. I particularly enjoyed his reminder that the current Twitter/Identi.ca microblogging environment looks a lot like email in the early days when a CompuServe subscriber couldn’t email a Prodigy member because of data silos:

What’s a real world example?

Right now I am in the process of working with a client who is opening a motorcycle service shop. The owners are interested in developing a strong base of local riders who trust them to perform superior service on their equipment. The owners are also very involved in advancing a local riding chapter that organizes events, hosts charity rides and in essence builds a community with the repair shop as the center …

I see micro-blogging as a way for the entire group to communicate about upcoming rides, as a way to follow riders who might be taking a long cross country trip, or simply to connect when the weather turns against getting together for a day on the open road.

Here’s a though provoking piece from Echovar:

As we deepen the questions about the real time web, we uncover the startling fact that underneath all the layers of technology and specialized lingo, we find only ourselves. Human beings, mortals, gathering together to share our joys and sorrows, our dreams and aspirations, our humanity. As we pound out, hammer and tongs, the basic shape of our experience through the real time Network, we would do well to heed the words of that guy who said, “what if all this stuff really matters?

Karoli makes the epistemological connection between the power of real time and the more political “fierce urgency of now” movement that Obama supporters mind find familiar:

In a time where young men and women are dying alongside tens of thousands from the country we occupy without invitation, when everyone is suffering from foreclosures and four-dollar a gallon gas, in a time where our standing in the world is in grave danger and we’ve lost all moral authority to conduct ourselves with diplomacy and dignity, all that is urgent is NOW. And inside now, change.

And finally Amyloo gives a practical example of how and why real time matters to fans, businesses and the wider social web:

Weezer outrage. Last night I noticed a Weezer song used in a Beaches resort commercial. I wondered if other fans were reacting in the same negative way I do when a song I like has been cashed out. They were. Check out the Twitter search compared with the blog search. No comparison. You’d have to spend 100 times longer on the blog search to open each post and see if it’s relevant, while the Twitter results page tells you the answer in a glance, a few seconds.

I’ll leave it to your own imagination to connect the dots and see how it might be to a company’s advantage to use this resource, especially a consumer-facing company.

Search is valuable, but track, the lightning-quick realtime stream via IM and XMPP, is gold. Steve Gillmor has to be right; that has to be why Twitter has clammed up and blocked it off. I guess the only answer is to drill offshore, or threaten it.

People using Twitter (or people interested in why other people use Twitter) need to see past the initial surface rendering of the service as a social network. The real power of Twitter is/was its real time facility. The implications for business, social, political, religious, etc are astounding.

Yet, there is very little recognition among the wider base of users as to what they are missing. Look at the cave walls around you… those are not real beings… they are shadows being projected from a much brighter and much more real time world outside the Twitter cave.



Posted: 08.28.2008

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